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Spooky Films for a Queer Halloween

LGBTQ movies for everyone, from the horror fanatic to the faint of heart.

A screengrab from The Hunger (1983)

With social distancing still in place, Halloween celebrations have been postponed until next year. But that doesn’t mean we can’t party at home with a movie night and just as much enthusiasm.  

Now, we know everyone loves to get their Rocky Horror Picture Show fix, but if you’re looking for something new to pumpkin-spice up your night, look no further. From slasher flicks to thoughtful thrillers, this OutSmart list of spooky LGBTQ Halloween films will get your party started. 

Hellbent (2004)

Known for being the first queer slasher flick, this movie is so cheesy and campy that even those who avoid horror will have a good time. Hellbent follows the Halloween-night escapades of a group of gay friends as they bar hop. Their festive romp quickly turns serious as they flee a masked murderer who always seems to be one step ahead of them. Certainly more charming than frightening, this film is both spooky enough to feel like Halloween and funny enough to be enjoyed on your own or with family and friends.
Perfect for fans of: Scream and Multiple Maniacs

What Keeps You Alive (2018)

A more recent and highly underrated thriller, this film introduces the “killer spouse” trope to the queer-cinema canon. The story revolves around Jules, a young woman celebrating her first anniversary with her wife, Jackie, at a lake-house cabin that Jackie’s family owns. But once they arrive, Jules begins to suspect that her wife did not bring her there for a simple romantic getaway. The movie is fast-paced and surprisingly violent, so What Keeps You Alive is definitely not for the faint of heart. However, for brave souls who seek some action and thrills on Halloween night, this is the pick for you.
Perfect for fans of: Hush and Monster 

The Hunger (1983)

This pick is an absolute classic for fans of both queer cinema and goth cinema—and if that doesn’t scream Halloween, I don’t know what does. The Hunger features David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve, and Susan Sarandon in their prime as bisexual vampires. Need I say more? With its themes of mortality and aging, this pick isn’t scary so much as it is slightly haunting. And as a bonus, the film is made so beautifully that hardly anyone could look away.
Perfect for fans of: The Craft and Mulholland Drive 

It Chapter Two (2019)

The second installment of the 21st-century adaptation of Stephen King’s classic novel, this chapter revives the iconic Losers Club as they return to battle the demonic clown who terrorized their childhood, while they also try to overcome the fears and traumas that followed them into adulthood. One of the best additions to the story has to be its new take on core “loser” Richie, whose original role merely provided comic relief. Here, the Richie segments feature a nuanced exploration of growing up gay in a small town in the ’80s. If you like jump scares, adventure, or miss the ’80s, this film is the one for you. Luckily, audiences do not need to see the first It film to follow along.
Perfect for fans of:  Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and Holding the Man 

The Carmilla Movie (2017)

Based on the Carmilla web series, the film follows ex-vampire Carmilla and her girlfriend Laura as they become haunted by literal ghosts from Carmilla’s past. They soon enlist the help of some old friends to contend with these supernatural forces. Closer to Twilight than From Dusk till Dawn, the vampiric elements are light and the queer-romance story takes center stage. One of the only romance films on our list, this pick is for those who want their rom-com fix while still celebrating the spirit of Halloween.
Perfect for fans of: Ghost and Interview with the Vampire 

Assassination Nation (2018)

Bold and unique, this film is as visually stunning as it is intriguing. The film follows a group of young girls as their routine lives turn into a brutal fight against violent mobs after an anonymous hacker leaks their private information and turns their small town upside down. Featuring openly bisexual actress Bella Thorne and transgender actress and model Hari Nef as leading characters, this is one of the few horror/action films out there with queer protagonists whose queerness isn’t just there for shock value. Their queer identities are naturally integrated into the story, but it’s hardly the focus of the conflict. But be warned: although the film is entertaining and well-made, Assassination Nation is gory, violent, and sure to leave you thinking about the power of perception, social media, and the secrets we choose to keep.
Perfect for fans of: The Purge and Heathers 

ParaNorman (2012)

A family-friendly flick, this Laika animation studio original is an animated masterpiece with just the right amount of creepy (yet heartwarming) moments for the season. At its core, the film is about embracing what makes you “different.” Norman is a young boy who is often bullied and isolated because of his special ability to speak with ghosts—something most people in his town do not believe he can really do, until a witch unleashes a swarm of undead into their streets. Suddenly, it’s up to Norman to save the day. Laika’s animated films are known for their colorful casts of characters, and ParaNorman is no exception. Inclusive and poignant, this is a great pick for anyone looking for a more plot-driven film that’s full of heart instead of gore.
Perfect for fans of: Coraline and The Addams Family

The Skeleton Twins (2014) 

Granted, this one might not exactly be a horror film (or even something remotely scary) , but if you’re not a fan of the horror genre and still want something in the spirit of Halloween, this 2014 dramedy is for you. Featuring Saturday Night Live alum Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as estranged twin siblings who reconnect after a suicide attempt, this film is funnier than that summary might imply. To its credit, the sensitive topics it tackles are handled with care. Framed by beautiful autumn scenery, the moving story and great cast make The Skeleton Twins a must-see. Plus, this pick includes one of the best and most emotional Halloween sequences ever put to film.

Perfect for fans of: Hedwig and the Angry Inch and A Single Man 

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Alys Garcia Carrera

Alys is a spring 2020 intern for OutSmart magazine and an international student who currently attends the University of Houston. They are majoring in Political Science and have three minors: GLBT studies, English/Spanish translation, and film studies. They also work for the University's Special Collections LGBTQ archives at M.D. Anderson Library.
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